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Long-lived force patterns and deformation waves at repulsive epithelial boundaries

Abstract

For an organism to develop and maintain homeostasis, cell types with distinct functions must often be separated by physical boundaries. The formation and maintenance of such boundaries are commonly attributed to mechanisms restricted to the cells lining the boundary. Here we show that, besides these local subcellular mechanisms, the formation and maintenance of tissue boundaries involves long-lived, long-ranged mechanical events. Following contact between two epithelial monolayers expressing, respectively, EphB2 and its ligand ephrinB1, both monolayers exhibit oscillatory patterns of traction forces and intercellular stresses that tend to pull cell–matrix adhesions away from the boundary. With time, monolayers jam, accompanied by the emergence of deformation waves that propagate away from the boundary. This phenomenon is not specific to EphB2/ephrinB1 repulsion but is also present during the formation of boundaries with an inert interface and during fusion of homotypic epithelial layers. Our findings thus unveil a global physical mechanism that sustains tissue separation independently of the biochemical and mechanical features of the local tissue boundary.

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Figure 1: EphB2 and ephrinB1 monolayers form a repulsive barrier.
Figure 2: EphB2 and ephrinB1 monolayers exert oscillatory force patterns.
Figure 3: Deformation waves propagate through the monolayer.
Figure 4: Inhibition of proliferation and tension attenuates deformation waves.
Figure 5: Deformation waves are a generic feature of repulsive interfaces.
Figure 6: Deformation waves emerge during epithelial fusion.

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Acknowledgements

We thank C. Pérez-González for help with viral transfections; J. Comas from the Cytometry service of Barcelona Science Park; C. Pérez-González, E. Bazellieres, A. Labernadie, R. Vincent and L. Valon for stimulating discussions; C. Cortina for the generation of cell lines, and N. Castro for technical assistance. This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness/FEDER (AP2010-2026 FPU grant to P.R.-F., BFU2016-79916-P and BFU2014-52586-REDT to P.R.-C., BFU2015-65074-P to X.T., BFU2016-75101-P and RYC-2014-15559 to V.C.), the Generalitat de Catalunya (2014-SGR-927 to X.T. and CERCA programme), the European Research Council (CoG-616480 to X.T.), European Commission (Grant Agreement SEP-210342844 to P.R.-C. and X.T.), Obra Social ‘La Caixa’, a Career Integration Grant within the seventh European Community Framework Programme (PCIG10-GA-2011-303848 to P.R.-C.), Fundació la Marató de TV3 (project 20133330 to P.R.-C.), Fundación Botín (E.B.), Banco Santander through Santander Universities (E.B.) the Josef Stenier Foundation (E.B.), and the National Institutes of Health (U01CA202123, R01HL107561, PO1HL120839 to J.J.F.). IBEC and IRB Barcelona are recipients of a Severo Ochoa Award of Excellence from the MINECO.

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P.R.-F., A.B. and X.T. designed experiments. P.R.-F., A.B., A.M.-L. and R.S. performed experiments. P.R.-F. and R.S. designed magnetic stencils and contributed to protocol design. P.R.-F., A.B., R.S., A.M.-L. and V.C. carried out data analysis. G.S. and E.B. provided cell lines, characterized cell lines, and contributed to protocol design. E.B., J.J.F. and P.R.-C. contributed to data interpretation. All authors discussed and interpreted results. P.R.-F. and X.T. wrote the manuscript with feedback from all authors. X.T. and R.S. oversaw the project.

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Correspondence to Raimon Sunyer or Xavier Trepat.

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Rodríguez-Franco, P., Brugués, A., Marín-Llauradó, A. et al. Long-lived force patterns and deformation waves at repulsive epithelial boundaries. Nature Mater 16, 1029–1037 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4972

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